A grenade thrown into a downtown Nairobi church has killed one person and injured 16. Police are investigating, but there are reports the attack may have been the result of an internal church dispute.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe described to VOA what happened just as the pastor of God's House of Miracles International Church in Nairobi’s Ngara area was concluding his early morning service.
“One of the persons, who was camouflaged as a worshiper, hurled a grenade and he ran out of the church. He was pursued, but he was armed with a handgun and fired at those who were pursuing him.”
This follows an April 23 statement by the U.S. embassy in Nairobi warning it had “received credible information regarding a possible attack on Nairobi hotels and prominent Kenyan government buildings.”
The statement said the attack’s timing was not known, but that “the potential attack is in the last stages of planning.”
Police spokesman Kiraithe told VOA it is too early to determine who was responsible for Sunday's attack.
“A combined team of the anti-terrorism police unit, the forensic experts from CID (Criminal Investigation Division) headquarters and the Nairobi area police commander are all on the ground. They are carrying out the investigations. The motive of the attack has not yet been established,” said Kiraithe.
Earlier this month, two grenade attacks on Kenya’s coast killed one person and injured many others.
These incidents are the latest of several attacks and kidnappings as the civil war in neighboring Somalia rages on. Last October Kenyan troops joined in the effort to battle the al-Shabab militant group, which is trying to wrest control of Somalia away from the transitional government there.
Al-Shabab has threatened to retaliate against Kenya’s involvement in Somalia.
Kiraithe says he cannot confirm whether Sunday’s grenade attack was carried out by al-Shabab, saying, in his words, that it is “rather unlikely that it is an al-Shabab strike.”
Officials have, in Kiraithe's words, “serious doubts” that the incident is related to the U.S. embassy’s warning, but they have not ruled it out.
“There are indications that it could be an internal strife within the church itself.”
According to one media report, the land on which the church stands is in dispute.
Kiraithe says police have a detailed description of the person who carried out the attack. He says Sunday’s attack should not be seen as sectarian violence directed against the Christian church.
Calls to the God's House of Miracles International Church went unanswered.